New York, NY, October 24, 2003 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called a United Nations-funded report examining Arab social and economic development "tainted" including "gratuitous and biased criticism of Israel." The 2003 Arab Human Development Report is the second report prepared by Arab intellectuals examining the gap between development in the Arab world and the West.
The authors state that they are seeking "reform from within" the Arab world, based on "rigorous self criticism." The reports have been greeted by enthusiasm by many in the international community for its promotion of free speech and for recommendations urging reform in education, politics, and civil society.
"We, like many others, believe that this is an important process for the future of the region," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Unfortunately, an otherwise worthy enterprise promoting Arab reform is tainted by its gratuitous and biased criticism of Israel. While Israel has no real place in this report, if they had to include references, these authors should have stuck to their policy of 'rigorous self criticism.'"
In the brief sections on Israel, there is no mention of Palestinian terrorism or of rejected peace plans. Israeli military operations in the West Bank are depicted as being carried out under the pretext of the international war on terrorism, and not as a measure taken following repeated heinous terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. Instead of holding Palestinian society accountable for its actions and policy errors, as it does to others examined in this report, the report solely blames Israel for the Palestinian condition.
The 2003 report says the "Israeli occupation of Palestine constitutes a severe impediment for human development." The report states, "In 2002, Israel's government, under the guise of the international war on terrorism, attacked almost all of the Palestinian territories, destroyed farms and homes, disrupted the Palestinian Authority and used unarmed civilians for human shields, and committed, most markedly in Jenin and Nablus, atrocities and what a highly reputed NGO, Human Rights Watch, called war crimes."